You did it: You made it through labor and delivery and are home with your new baby. Your time is filled with breastfeeding, diaper changing and cuddling as you care for this helpless new being.
But perhaps now more than ever, you need to take care of yourself, and exercise is an essential aspect of that. “Exercising either alone or with your baby can help you get your life back to normal after giving birth,” says Gayle Peterson, Ph.D., a Berkeley, Calif., therapist who specializes in pregnancy and parenting. “Exercise not only helps you get your body back, but it also releases hormones that can help prevent the blues many new moms experience.”
If you don’t have the time or inclination for a big walk or workout, that’s OK. Research has shown that several 10-minute spurts of exercise can be just as effective as one longer session. Take a few minutes each day to do our basic “Postpartum Moves” on pg. 122. When you’re feeling up to it and with your doctor’s go-ahead, probably around six weeks postpartum, try these quickie workouts, designed by Fit Pregnancy’s fitness editor, Teri Hanson. The goal is to do three quickies a day when you have the time, for a total of 30 minutes of exercise daily. So grab your baby and start moving. You’ll both love it.
Quickie No. 1:
Dancing provides a light cardio workout involving all the major muscle groups. It also improves balance and coordination.
Select any kind of music that you enjoy and that makes you want to move. (Mix slow and fast songs for variety.) Hold your baby in your arms or use a secure front carrier. Keep your feet moving, lift your legs and move your hips from side to side. Remember to use your arms if your baby is in a carrier, reaching above your head and around you. (Just be sure to keep one hand on the baby.)
Quickie No. 2
Total body strengtheners
Yes, you’ll gain upper-body strength from carrying your new baby, but you also need to target your lower body and the muscles that were taxed during pregnancy. The following four moves will help you build overall body strength.
1. Baby elevator Hold your baby securely, either face
out or toward your chest. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, abs tight [A]. Bend your knees, bringing your thighs as close to parallel to the floor as possible, keeping knees behind toes [B]. Rise slowly without locking knees. Repeat for 3 minutes, about 20–25 repetitions. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks.